I think it is up to each individual to determine what gives his life meaning. Years ago, I decided that what would make my life meaningful was making music. If I could write a song that would lift people's spirits, or make them feel understood or not alone, or just make them want to let go and have fun or dance, I felt that was a pretty powerful thing. So I put the majority of my efforts into that pursuit, and guess what? It has been a great ride, and I have enjoyed it immensely. Maybe even lifted a few spirits
in the process.
I now have a family, and my primary purpose in life is being as good a father as I can be for my children. I pour myself into them. When I came home from work today my wife told me that, after making his first finger-painting, my 3 year-old son said, "Daddy will be so proud of me!". Never will my children doubt that their father loves them. If I can raise a child who grows into a caring, loving, generous, intelligent adult, I think that's a pretty powerful thing. So I am putting the majority of my efforts into that pursuit.
Your problem, Sam, (if I can go out on a limb here) is that you have fallen for the great lie of religion, which has convinced you that this life is just your audition for an eternal afterlife. This is a very shallow view, IMO, and one that cheapens the only life you can know for certain
you have. You believe that without the prospect (or is it promise?) of an afterlife that this life is meaningless, but I contend that knowing this is the only shot you get makes this life much more valuable and meaningful. Make the best of it, 'cause its all you've got!
I don’t believe in heaven and hell. I don’t know if I believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won’t allow this life — the only thing I know to exist — to be wasted.